Wednesday 9 December 2015

Match report: Wolfsburg 3-2 United

United are out of the Champions League after a see-saw encounter with Wolfsburg saw us succumb to a late winner on a dramatic and nervy night in Germany.

Twice inside the final 15 minutes, it looked as though we were going through, but having been in and out more times than the hokey cokey, Naldo's late header eventually sunk a youthful, injury ravaged United side whom can hold their heads high despite elimination.

Anthony Martial soon settled any early nerves by racing onto Juan Mata's perfectly weighted through ball and coolly sliding the ball beyond the advancing Diego Benaglio.

Naldo pulled the hosts level with a neat finish from Ricardo Rodriguez's free-kick just three minutes later to leave the match- and the group- all square again.

Benaglio saved superbly from Marouane Fellaini's header and that proved crucial as the hosts moved ahead with a brilliantly crafted goal on the half hour mark 

Julian Draxler and Max Kruse linked up wonderfully at the culmination of a slick passing move as the latter squared unselfishly for Vieirinha to slot in and turn the game on its head.

United thought they have levelled on the cusp of the interval when Jesse Lingard lashed in a rasper only for the linesman to eventually- and probably correctly- rule that the offside Juan Mata was in the eyeline of Benaglio..

The Swiss international stopper clawed out an acrobatic effort from Memphis whilst Andre Schurrle tested the back-pedalling De Gea after the break and the Spaniard also saved well from Kruse.

Martial had a drilled effort held by Benaglio and Memphis put a free-kick narrowly wide, but the real drama was yet to unfold.

United finally gained reward for their pressure when Wolfsburg substitute Joshua Guilavogui put through his own net under pressure from Fellaini to put us- briefly -back into the driving seat with six minutes to play. 

Seconds later, though, all our hard work was undone as Naldo, unmarked, nodded in a corner as news filtered through that PSV had taken the lead in Eindhoven.

Lingard had a shot blocked  and the injured Chris Smalling headed  wide as the Reds bravely pressed until the death, but the game was gone and United dropped into the Europa League.

Overall team performance: 7.5/10
United Faithful Man of the Match: Juan Mata 

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